Danny Higginbotham has suggested that the aerial threat posed by Aston Villa signing Rudy Gestede will be key to Tim Sherwood's side's chances of beating Manchester United at Villa Park this evening.
Writing in his regular column for the London Evening Standard, the former Manchester United and Stoke defender put forward his theory that the visitors' selection troubles in defence could provide a chink in the armour for the Benin international to exploit.
He said, "It’s not often we could have said such a thing in years gone by, but there is likely to be a clear weakness for Aston Villa to exploit against Manchester United on Friday night.
"It is on the left side of central defence, where there is a strong possibility that, with Marcos Rojo short of match fitness, Daley Blind will be positioned.
"With Luke Shaw likely to be at left-back, that means the left-hand side of United’s defence will be more diminutive than the right, where Matteo Darmian and Chris Smalling are likely to be stationed."
Higginbotham emphasised that Midlands outfit's summer arrival Gestede, signed from Blackburn Rovers, holds the key to unlocking Manchester United's problems at the back.
The 26-year-old, who scored 20 goals in the Championship last season, netted on his debut for the Villans versus Bournemouth on the opening weekend and he will be hoping for similar success when Manchester United come to town.
Higginbotham wrote, "Villa manager Tim Sherwood will be looking at that and thinking: ‘I want to get Rudy Gestede to attack Blind.'
"He will be telling him to hook himself up to Blind, use his five-inch height advantage to win the aerial challenges, creating the opportunities for knock-downs for those around him, maybe Gabby Agbonlahor or Scott Sinclair"
The main criticism surrounding the Red Devils throughout Louis van Gaal's reign so far has been the club's frailties in defence - particularly at centre-back - and this remains a factor that the Dutchman is still yet to address.
Based on his ability in the air, Sherwood would be well served rewarding Gestede with his first competitive start for the club at Villa Park this evening. Following the summer departure of Christian Benteke, the Benin international is the man most likely to fire Aston Villa to all three points when the two sides meet.